Gliwickie Metamorfozy

John Baildon 11.12.17727.08.1846

Małgorzata Malanowicz
Photo by: W. Kwietniewski, M. Malanowicz
Translation: I.Wrodarczyk, W. Kwietniewski

Gliwice 2005  






   He was born in Larbert near Edinburgh on the 11th of December 1772. He studied mechanics and hydraulics. Later in the steelworks in Carron, under the care of his father (engineer), he got to know some details about processing of iron and about foundry.

   He came to Tarnowskie Góry in Autumn 1793, because of the invitation of count Fryderyk Reden. John Baildon was 21 years old at that time.

   Despite the fact of being young he became an adviser and main engineer in constructing the Royal Cast Iron Foundry. His main task was to design the big coke furnace and to control its construction.   


   In spite of the many difficulties the furnace was put into operation in Autumn 1996. It was the first furnace (except England) in Europe. Simultaneously Baildon modernized the “Mała Panew” Steelworks in Ozimek. A foundry of gun-barrels designed by him was the most modern and efficient in Prussia. He also started a section of bridge parts constructions. First iron bridges in Silesia were produced there: in 1796 bridge over Strzegomka river in Lazany and in 1827 bridge over Mała Panew in Ozimek (still existing!).

   His uncommon diligence, energy and talent caused that in January 1798 ha was appointed a state technical adviser of the steelworks industry on the Upper Silesia. At this post he was realizing the biggest industrial enterprise in Europe of those years. Under the management of Reden, in cooperation with Jan Wedding he controlled the build of Royal Steelworks in Chorzów, which became the biggest and the most modern metallurgical works in Europe.    

   Baildon also put into service a steelworks in Sławięcice and a factory for the Cistercian monastery in Rudy. During the wars of Napoleon he went to Moravia, where he modernized the industry works in Frydland. After he came back to Silesia, he started a zinc mine in Brzozowice and “New Helen” and “Szarlej” Steelworks. His invested all his possessions to build a steelworks in Katowice-D±b (later named „Baildon”), near Rawa river. 

   He settled down in Gliwice with his wife Helen Galli. They got married in 1804, she was 12 years younger and they say that she was very beautiful. Her father, Francis was a rich merchant, his family originated from Italy. John and Helen were living in a house on the market square, they had 7 children – 5 boys and 2 girls.  

   Baildon bought also an estate in Łubie, where his son Arthur built a palace for the family in 1860. After the nationalization it was seriously damaged, it was renovated at the beginning of 1990-ties, now there is a house of social care. 


   The Palace in Pogrzebień also belonged to the Baildon family.

   He was a man of action – hard-working, thrifty and with great respect for order. He died at the age of 74 –  he was active and devoted to his work to the end of hid days. His tomb in the shape of a neo-gothic, cast-iron chapel is situated in GZUT – on the cemetery only a pedestal left.   



   Nearby the church in Łubie, on the small cemetery some members of the family are buried: Baildon’s wife Helen, his son Arthur, grandson Arthur and the members of next generations.

   “Dead are blessed, because they rest after work and their works bespeak of them” – such epitaph we can see on the tomb of Arthur Baildon. It was undoubtedly a motto of him and his father.


   Two children of John and Helen – William (1805-1833) and Maria (1820-1850; married with count von Strachwitz) are buried on the monumental cemetery in Bełk.    




Henryk Christoph, Eugeniusz Paduch - "John Baildon "   

Franciszek Maurer - Zeszyty Gliwickie 18-19  (1987-1988)

Szymon Silczak © 2000 by Sebastian Dziechciarczyk -     

Krzysztof Gilecki